Rain barrels are a great way to collect water to use on your lawn and garden. Here are tips on how to will save on your water bill and keep water in the ground instead of the storm sewers.
Table of contents
Selecting a rain barrel
– rain barrels are available locally at garden supply and hardware stores. Often, rain barrels can also be purchased through local fundraising events. https://rainbarrel.ca/sales/.
- Features to look for when purchasing a rain barrel:
- Child-safe, non-removable lid;
- Built-in, secure mosquito and debris screening; and
- Overflow and linking options (to other barrels).
Location, location, location
- place your rain barrel near where the water will be used; whether it’s for washing the car and gardening tools, or watering the flower beds and the lawn. Rain barrels should be placed on a solid, strong, level surface. A full 200L rain barrel can weigh 200kg or over 400 pounds (weight of the water) plus the weight of the barrel.
Don’t drink the water
- Rain barrel water is not safe for drinking, cooking with or bathing in. It is usually collected from a roof and can carry bacteria, parasites, and viruses from birds and animal wastes and chemical contaminants from roofing materials. The warm dark environment inside a rain barrel can permit bacterial growth.
Water at the Roots
– if you’re watering fruits and vegetables follow these tips for a healthy garden:
- Keep rain barrel water off the leaves of edible plants and direct water into the soil around the plants instead. Drip hoses have the added benefit of slowly releasing water over time, keeping your plants well watered and making sure your barrel is ready to capture the next rain.
- Wash all vegetables with clean tap water before eating.
- Consider installing a water diverter to re-direct the first flush of roof runoff away from your barrel. This first flush of rainwater has more roof debris and contaminants that are undesirable in the barrel.
Collect the max
– drain your rain barrel after each rain event to ensure your rain barrel can capture the greatest possible volume; this may also help to prevent mosquito population growth. To protect property, always direct the overflows away from foundation walls and neighbouring properties.
Protect your investment
– rain barrels and their connections require some maintenance:
- regularly clean and maintain your eavestroughs and downspouts,
- consider adding screening and gutter guards to help keep leaves and other materials out,
- ensure connections are tight,
- clean and maintain your rain barrel annually
Winterize your rain barrel
Before the first frost, follow these simple steps to ensure that your rain barrel continues to last for years.
- Empty the rain barrel and drain hoses completely.
- Disconnect any hoses and leave the spigot open to prevent accumulation of water.
- Disconnect the rain barrel from the downspout.
- Reattach the cut portion of the downspout, or attach a temporary flexible downspout. To prevent damage, direct the downspout away from basement walls, window wells and neighbouring properties.
- Alternately consider installing a rain diverter for easy seasonal removal and re-installation.
- Store the rain barrel and its attachments in the garage or other protected area. If you must leave your rain barrel outside, place it in a sheltered area of the yard, turn it upside down and cover. This will help to protect the barrel from the elements and water accumulation.
- Clean the rain barrel and screens and check for any damage.
- Learn more about rainwater collection and health(link is external).
See more tips on how to manage rainwater and Soak it Up, Slow It Down and Keep it Clean!
The original post can be found here:City of Ottawa Site